LSU kept its 4-3 base defense largely because it highlighted the defensive ends, and on Wednesday morning, the Tigers added another talented end to their recruiting class in Saivion Jones.
Jones, a four-star prospect from St. James, ranked as the No. 10 weakside defensive end in the nation, according to 247Sports. He joined three other defensive linemen in the class, and despite being considered the No. 161 overall recruit in the nation, he was the one ranked lowest, signaling the potential of the position within LSU’s class.
“My biggest strength is to be able to get after the quarterback and have tremendous speed off the ball,” Jones (6-foot-5, 240) said in an interview with WGNO.
Other than Jones, LSU also signed five-star tackle Maason Smith, four-star end Landon Jackson and four-star end Bryce Langston, tying the defensive line with wide receivers for the largest position group in the class of 2021. The Tigers signed four of each.
LSU has three spots left in this recruiting cycle.
The incoming defensive linemen joined a group that returns every starter next season. The Tigers will bring back senior tackle Glen Logan, senior tackle Neil Farrell, junior end Ali Gaye and senior end Andre Anthony. They also have sophomores BJ Ojulari, Jaquelin Roy and Jacobian Guillory, to name a few, creating a mix of experience and talented youth.
Having so many options along the defensive line is a necessity for LSU. The Tigers kept a four-man base front under new coordinator Daronte Jones, which was a necessity for coach Ed Orgeron. As he interviewed candidates, Orgeron made sure they would use a 4-3 base defense. He believes it will highlight LSU’s current personnel, particularly the defensive ends.
Daronte Jones agreed. In his introductory news conference Tuesday, he said LSU has “some studs on the outside” who will be more effective in a four-man front, which encourages defensive ends to get upfield and rush the passer instead of sometimes playing side-to-side to open holes for linebackers.
The Tigers used the same general scheme last season and averaged 2.4 sacks per game, fifth in the Southeastern Conference. They also had 63 tackles for loss, which ranked fourth.
“One of the reasons I hired Daronte is because of the defensive ends that we’ve got coming back,” Orgeron said Tuesday morning. “I didn’t want Ali Gaye to run a 4-technique.”
As he went through recruiting, Jones told WGNO he felt drawn to LSU by its history of sending defensive linemen to the NFL. The Tigers have a rich tradition at the position, something new defensive line coach Andre Carter emphasized the importance of maintaining during his introductory news conference.
“That’s just something that not only myself, but Coach O, believe in,” Carter said, “having an efficient D-line tradition where guys continue to come in and play hard for us and be elite. That’s what it boils down to."